Glider pi­lot sorry about crash into fam­ily home

The News-Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Ken­dra Baker

DANBURY — The pi­lot of a glider that nose-dived into the roof of a house said he is sorry for what hap­pened — but he isn’t sure why it hap­pened.

In his first in­ter­view since the crash Tues­day, Tom Ne­jame said his 2016 Alisport Si­lent 2 Elec­tro — the only one of its kind in Danbury — is new and well-main­tained, but it “some­how lost power un­ex­pect­edly” when he was re­turn­ing to Danbury Mu­nic­i­pal Air­port.

Ne­jame, 63, who owns the long­time fam­ily swim­ming pool sup­ply com­pany Ne­jame & Sons, said he’s sorry for the dam­age he caused — both to the house at 5 Golden Hill Ave. and the fam­ily that lives there.

“I’m very sorry for what hap­pened and I’m very fa­nat­i­cal about be­ing as safe as pos­si­ble,” he said Thurs­day. “In life things

are un­ex­pected, and I truly feel for any­body that I might have af­fected.”

Amanda Wi­rag Oliveira and her two young chil­dren were home when the glider punched through the roof of their two-story house a lit­tle be­fore 6 p.m. Tues­day. No one was in­jured and Ne­jame climbed out of the cock­pit in­side the home’s at­tic.

Ne­jame took off from the Danbury air­port be­tween 10 a.m. and noon Tues­day.

He ra­dioed the tower around 5:45 p.m., but the mes­sage was gar­bled and the con­nec­tion then lost, said As­sis­tant Air­port Ad­min­is­tra­tor Mike Safranek.

Ac­cord­ing to Mayor Mark Boughton, the pi­lot thought he had 20 min­utes of power left and was on his fi­nal ap­proach to the air­port when the bat­tery­op­er­ated glider ran out of power.

The Na­tional Trans­porta­tion Safety Board is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the crash, with the as­sis­tance of the Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion, to de­ter­mine the prob­a­ble cause of the ac­ci­dent.

FAA of­fi­cials were on the scene Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion for the in­ves­ti­ga­tion — in­clud­ing in­ter­view­ing the own­ers of the house, who are rel­a­tives of Oliveira.

An air­craft in­sur­ance com­pany is cov­er­ing the re­moval of the air­craft, Safranek said.

The glider was lifted by crane from the house Wed­nes­day evening.

Oliveira was up­set about the lack of re­morse Ne­jame showed af­ter the crash.

“It re­ally up­set me that he didn’t even think about us,” she said Wed­nes­day. “He just said, ‘It can be fixed.’ He wasn’t wor­ried about the house or my two small chil­dren who could have been killed.”

When Ne­jame broke his si­lence Thurs­day, he said he was re­lieved no one in­side the home was in­jured.

“I imag­ine it was as fright­en­ing for them as it was for me,” he said. “I am also for­tu­nate that my own in­juries were not worse . ... I am very grate­ful to all of the first re­spon­ders who tended to the fam­ily and me af­ter this un­for­tu­nate ac­ci­dent.”

He said his plane was “new and well-main­tained” and he looks for­ward to work­ing with gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials to de­ter­mine why his glider mal­func­tioned.

H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticu­t Me­dia

Chris Cunningham, of Colo­nial Air in New Bed­ford, Mass., se­cures a glider to a crane Wed­nes­day to re­move a glider from the roof of a house on Golden Hill Av­enue in Danbury. The glider crashed through the roof of the house on Tues­day.

Hearst Connecticu­t Me­dia file photo

Tom Ne­jame

H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticu­t Me­dia

A crane from Healy Crane was brought in Wed­nes­day to re­move a 2016 Alisport Si­lent 2 Elec­tro glider from the roof of a house on Golden Hill Av­enue in Danbury. On Thurs­day, the glider’s pi­lot, busi­ness­man Tom Ne­jame, said he was sorry for crash­ing into the fam­ily’s home.

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